“ . . . while we wait for the blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” Titus 2:13
I was thinking about this verse and I realized that though it marks where we are in the continuum of history awaiting the second coming of Jesus, it also made me think of what it was like for those anticipating Jesus’ first arrival. Three key words pop off of the page – wait, hope and glory.
“ . . . while we wait . . .” Could I have said a more painful series of words to you today? We hate to wait. More so than any other culture at any other time, we are a people driven by speed , efficiency and demand that they both take place all the time in every fiber of our lives. The roads should be clear of any traffic or stoplights. My phone or computer should be lightning fast all the time. The line that I’m waiting in at the store needs to be the one without the chatty cashier.
That’s the way we expect our lives to go – no waiting necessary.
I’m sure that the people awaiting God’s Messiah were tired of “awaiting” too. Because of their unfaithfulness to God, He had allowed them to be conquered by foreign armies, dragged off into exile, brought back a remnant of them to a desolate land and then had been silent for 400 years before Jesus finally arrived.
What was all of that waiting for? And how are we to wait now? And for what? It begins by clearing up your misunderstanding of what it means to wait. You think of it as “go stand in that line” or “sitting on your hands” or “wasting time,” but because we know WHO we’re waiting for, it changes HOW we live in the meantime . . .
“ . . . for the blessed hope . . .” Biblically, hope is not like our English concept of “I hope it’s not going to rain” or “I hope that she’s not late” – an expression of desire without any basis of assuredness. Biblically, hope is a strong confidence that you live according to.
Hope is something that you consider a “WHEN” thing, not an “IF” thing. And that’s why it’s tied so closely to waiting – a confidence in what will be but has not yet taken place.
Wait and hope. Two ingredients necessary for those who longed for Jesus’ first arrival. But what about glory – not a very good descriptor of how He came originally, or is it?
“ . . . the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”
Make no mistake, that even though so many missed the glory of God that was displayed at Jesus’ first advent, His weight, His substance, His value was communicated to those who were there.
To a young couple, weary from travel, barely able to find a place to give birth, the glory of the Creator of the Universe shown through the eyes of a newborn infant that Mary was holding in her arms. A God who would come to rescue a rebel race by becoming one of them had to blow their minds. What kind of God does this?
And to the shepherds – low on the food-chain itinerants who were camped out on the hillside – God’s glory was something they couldn’t escape. Watching sheep in the night and then BLAM! – the sky is lit up with this terrifying, other-worldly legion of beings who are announcing the arrival of God’s centuries-old promise of Messiah . . . to you!
And do you remember what the angels said? “Glory to God in the highest . . .” The weight of God’s character has entered into your world like never before – He has come to make things right.
The wait is over; hope is here. That’s the glory of Christmas – God’s worth being revealed to us by Him becoming one of us in order to save us. And that “incarnational approach” of God reaching us where we were that we celebrate at Christmas is to be our model of how we engage our worlds as Jesus’ ambassadors. Merry waiting!
Todd Arnett, Senior Pastor